Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Promising New Drug Targets Identified For Huntington's Disease

Date:
March 24, 2008
Source:
Wellcome Trust
Summary:
A number of promising new drug targets for Huntington's disease, a neurodegenerative disease, have emerged. Scientists have identified a number of candidate drugs to investigate further which encourage cells to "eat" the malformed proteins that lead to the disease.

New research has provided a number of promising new drug targets for Huntington's disease, a neurodegenerative disease. Scientists at the University of Cambridge have identified a number of candidate drugs to investigate further which encourage cells to "eat" the malformed proteins that lead to the disease.

Huntington's disease is one of a number of degenerative diseases marked by build up of a malformed proteins in brain cells, mainly in the basal ganglia and the cerebral cortex. Normally, cells dispose of or recycle their waste material, including unwanted or misfolded proteins, through a process known as autophagy, or 'self-eating'.

The group of Professor David Rubinsztein, a Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Fellow at the University of Cambridge, has previously shown that stimulating autophagy in the cells can be an effective way of preventing the malformed proteins from building up. However, there are currently no treatments available that slow the neurodegeneration in people with Huntington's disease. Rapamycin, an immunosuppressant used to lower the body's natural immunity in patients who receive kidney transplants, is the most promising candidate drug currently available but can have significant side effects.

Now, in research published today online in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, Professor Rubinsztein and colleagues have shown that a number of FDA-approved drugs for treatments such as migraine and hypertension are able to stimulate autophagy in fruit flies and zebrafish through unexpected pathways.

"By screening a number of drugs that have already been shown to be safe in humans, we have been able to identify some unexpected and very promising pathways involved in Huntington's," says Professor Rubinsztein. "In collaboration with Cahir O'Kane's group in Cambridge and Summit Plc, we have shown that these drugs can alleviate the toxicity of the Huntington's disease mutation in cell-based, fly and zebrafish models. The big question for us is whether they will do the same in humans."

One of the drugs tested, verapamil, which is currently used to treat high blood pressure and heart arrhythmias (among other indications), inhibits the influx of calcium into cells which, in turn, appears to regulate autophagy. Similarly, clonidine, currently used to treat hypertension or migraine, appears to work on autophagy by decreasing levels of cAMP, a molecule that is important in many biological processes.

If the drugs can stimulate autophagy effectively over long-term periods in human brains, then they may have the potential to help delay the onset of Huntington's disease. The candidate drugs are relatively safe and well tolerated when used to treat the diseases they were designed for. A minimal side-effect profile would be highly desirable for a drug treatment aiming to delay the onset or slow the progress of Huntington's. Such drugs may need to be taken for decades, and even moderate side effects may discourage people from taking them over a long period.

"We know the genetics of Huntington's disease and can predict the majority of people at risk," says Professor Rubinsztein. "If we can find a safe, well tolerated drug, then a person at risk could be placed on a drug regime to help prevent onset. It is much easier to stop something happening than having to treat it once it has started."

Professor Rubinsztein and colleagues will shortly begin testing the drugs in other animal models to evaluate their safety and efficacy.

This research was funded by the Wellcome Trust.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wellcome Trust. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wellcome Trust. "Promising New Drug Targets Identified For Huntington's Disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080323210232.htm>.
Wellcome Trust. (2008, March 24). Promising New Drug Targets Identified For Huntington's Disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080323210232.htm
Wellcome Trust. "Promising New Drug Targets Identified For Huntington's Disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080323210232.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins